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Eur. J. Entomol. 2012, 109(3): 411417
Vibratory territorial signals in caterpillars of the poplar lutestring, Tethea or (Lepidoptera: Drepanidae)
SCOTT J.L. & YACK J.E.*
Caterpillars of the poplar lutestring moth, Tethea or, construct leaf shelters that they defend against intruding conspecifics using a combination of vibratory signals and physical aggression. Staged interactions between a resident caterpillar and introduced conspecific were recorded with a video camera and laser vibrometer. Residents crawl towards the intruder and perform three behaviours: lateral hitting, pushing, and mandible scraping. Vibrations caused by mandible scraping result from the caterpillar repeatedly scraping opened mandibles laterally against the leaf surface in bouts lasting 1.16 ą 0.39 s, with an average of 4 ą 1 scrapes per bout. We propose that these scrapes function in leaf shelter defense against conspecifics for the following reasons: Mandible scrapes are produced only by residents; they are generated when a resident is approached by an intruder; the rate of scraping increases as the intruder approaches the shelter; and residents in all trials retain their shelters, with the intruder leaving the leaf within 127.9 ą104.3s from the beginning of the trial. The function and evolutionary origins of vibration-mediated territoriality in caterpillars are discussed.
AddressDepartment of Biology, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Dr., Ottawa, ON, K1S 5B6 Canada; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
KeywordsDrepanidae, Thyatirinae, Tethea or, larva, defense, vibration, communication, mandible scraping, territory, leaf shelter